By Brian Park
Over in Marbella Plaza, four new restaurants are expected to open—two within the next two weeks. South Coast Kitchen, The Olives Branch, Harlow’s and No No’s aim to provide a diverse selection of quality dining options that caters to the breakfast, lunch, dinner and after-hours crowds.
No No’s is the furthest from opening and will eventually take over the current location of The Hot Lunch Lady—now closed. The Dispatch spoke with the owners of the three other restaurants to check out what San Juan Capistrano should expect.
SOUTH COAST KITCHEN
Owner and chef Justin Davis calls his first restaurant a “California spin on a Parisian café.” Davis is a classically trained French chef who has worked in the restaurant and catering business for the past decade. With South Coast Kitchen, he hopes to offer quick, high-quality meals with flavors that span the gamut of sweet and savory.
“For breakfast, we have what we call a ‘Bacon Butty,’ which is (Nueske’s slab) bacon, egg cheddar on a croissant with some HP sauce,” Davis said. Lunch items include cold and hot sandwiches, including a deep fried burrata (a type of cheese similar to mozzarella) sandwich that Davis simply called “decadent.”
South Coast Kitchen’s menu also features salads, fries, kids items, pastries and espresso. The menu is small as a matter of principle—quality over quantity.
“My philosophy is fresh, everything is handmade. I try to deal with local farms and I definitely choose sustainable options,” Davis said.
Main food items range between $4 and $12. South Coast Kitchen will have its grand opening Friday, November 9. Breakfast hours are 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit www.sc-kitchen.com or call 949.481.9596.
THE OLIVES GARDEN
Co-owners and father-and-son duo Bill and Omar Chmait have more than 30 years of combined experience in the restaurant business. They realized last year there weren’t many south Orange County options of their native food of Lebanon, which led to them starting The Olives Garden.
“Mediterranean cuisine with a Lebanese flair,” Omar Chmait said of his menu. “It’s organic, it’s healthy and it’s flavorful.”
The sit-down restaurant will feature light to heavy lunch and dinner options, such as hummus, dolmas, tabbouleh and kefir cheese—a Lebanese staple.
An interesting feature of the restaurant is an attached, outdoor lounge for hookah enthusiasts.
Omar Chmait says the restaurant plans to have a soft opening in a week and will officially open in two weeks. Lunch prices range from $8 to $12 while dinners cost between $15 and $25. The Olives Garden will be open between 10 a.m. and 12 a.m. during weekdays and until 2 a.m. on weekends.
San Juan Capistrano resident Bonnie Harlow Kingston has been in the restaurant business for 23 years. With her latest endeavor, Harlow’s, Kingston hopes to offer her neighbors an eclectic menu with “global influences.” Part of the menu will also change seasonally, according to Kingston, depending on the availability of fresh ingredients.
“I eat extremely healthy, quality foods at home and if I would not bring something into the kitchen at my house, it certainly won’t be in the kitchen at my restaurant.”
Harlow’s will also feature an extensive wine list, local beers and a cocktail menu that’s a mix of prohibition-era drinks and contemporary recipes.
Kingston hopes to open the restaurant before the holidays, but pending construction for a bar makes setting an exact date difficult. Once Harlow’s does open, Kingston expects to start by serving dinners between 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. then expand to include breakfast and lunch and champagne brunches on Sundays. For more information, visit www.harlowssjc.com or call 949.240.8100.